I’m quite comfortable in saying that politically and economically I lean to the left. I have little tolerance for the extreme wealth-hoarding that’s become possible under the intense capitalist systems around the world, nor am I a friend of the populist practices that chain us to these systems. The rich get richer, even in times of desperate strife, and the poor get forgotten. I recently learned that if Jeff Bezo, chief of Amazon, were on an hourly rate, he’d be earning 4 and half million dollars per hour. That is 157 times the average yearly Amazon wage, in an hour.
Now, Bezos does not directly earn that kind of money – shares, stock etc ties up some of it, however his earnings are still well beyond what his employees can ever hope to reach. Nor is Bezos alone in this heavily skewed situation. Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and many others earn astonishing sums of money, whilst the people who work for them don’t. In the USA this manifests in how millions of Americans have to choose between paying extortionate medical bills (a consequence of privatising the healthcare service) and paying rent, because doing both is impossible. In the UK we’ve seen a frightening surge in the use of foodbanks, as a direct consequence of a decade of Tories looking after the rich who line their pockets, at the expense of the poorest elements of society.
This post has come about because of a conversation over at another site, where Asher has been extolling the virtues of capitalism. He argues it is a system that if implemented properly, would allow for equality of opportunity – but such a system can never allow for equality of opportunity. He assumes a level playing field, which isn’t the case. It never was and never will be.
This is not to say that I advocate for a full-blown communist regime. History has many examples of how they’ve failed. Communism invariably fails. Human nature precludes it from succeeding. However, the kneejerk reaction of right-wingers is to assume any move to the left (such as nationalised healthcare, abolishing student loans etc) is to implement Soviet-style communism. Any mention of a compassionate idea is shot down by McCarthyism-style scare-mongering. The idea of helping people – truly helping – is for some reason anathema to the right, despite the numerous proclamations from the deeply religious conservative right about God’s love and the virtues of Jesus. Dare to suggest that truly helping those in poverty might involve more than asking people to donate to foodbanks and suddenly you’re an evil Commie.
I’m not saying hand out money for nothing. I am not saying I want everyone to be handed everything they want on a silver platter. In an ideal world, we’d all want for nothing, we’d all have a roof over our head, food in our bellies and love in our hearts. I realise the world is not like that. It could be, one day, if we are prepared to work for it, one step at a time. We’ll never get there whilst hoarding wealth is seen as the peak of society, and helping the impoverished is treated as unholy.